Press ReleasesApril 08, 2014
Settlement of Reed lawsuit delivers on dream of stability for schools in turmoil and new hope for students at 37 struggling Los Angeles schools
LOS ANGELES -- Attorneys representing middle-school students who experienced huge teacher turnover due to budget-based layoffs have reached a historic agreement in the Reed v. State of California et al. lawsuit. The settlement between the plaintiffs, the Los Angeles Unified School District, United Teachers Los Angeles, and the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools will lead to major new investments in critically needed administrative and teacher support at 37 schools that struggle with high teacher turnover and student drop-out rates and low API scores. The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education will consider the agreement at its meeting on Tuesday, April 22.
The ACLU of Southern California, Public Counsel and Morrison & Foerster LLP filed Reed v. State in 2010 as California’s budget crisis led to massive teacher layoffs affecting some of the state’s lowest-performing schools. It sparked a national conversation about how to support students and educators at campuses in turmoil. The agreement comes as California school districts adopt their first budgets under the Local Control Funding Formula, which will bring millions of dollars in new programs to schools in need.
Erin Darling, staff attorney at Public Counsel, said, “LAUSD’s commitment to these 37 schools is also a promise to every student it serves: you and your teachers deserve the dignity and support to be successful. As school districts across California adopt the new Local Control Funding Formula, the Reed settlement represents a path to stability and long-term success for schools that have too little of both.”
“Sharail Reed and these brave students and parents demanded that our school districts not walk away from their most struggling schools. This agreement is a testament to their willpower and their dream of a quality education for every student in Los Angeles,” said Dale Larson, a lawyer at Morrison & Foerster.
Mark Rosenbaum, chief counsel for the ACLU Foundation of Southern California (ACLU SoCal), commended the settlement. “We brought the Reed case in 2010 to ensure that children not be denied their shot at the American Dream solely by fortuity of the zip code in which they were born or raised, that the stability and quality of the teachers at their schools be the same as at the highest performing schools in the state. The settlement reached today, the product of months of collaborative efforts by all stakeholders, cements this principle into place for students at 37 schools by ensuring that these children, their teachers and administrators receive the support they need to obtain and deliver a first class education. Its provisions are a model for implementation at disadvantaged schools everywhere.”
When the lawsuit was filed, Shanita Rogers’ two daughters were students at Samuel Gompers Middle School. “By the teachers getting laid off, students were losing out and their skills were falling behind. There was a lot of confusion in the classroom. It really was a lost year,” she said. “Luckily I was a strong parent who stood behind my kids, but many of those kids that they went to school with have dropped out. Kids deserve a better chance.”
Gompers is one of the 37 schools covered by the agreement.
The Reed agreement calls for hiring additional assistant principals, counselors and special education support staff, expanding professional development for teachers and administrators, offering a bonus to retain and recruit principals to these high-need schools, and selecting experienced mentor teachers from school staffs. The new programs represent an investment of more than $25 million in the budget proposed by LAUSD Superintendent’s Office on April 4.
The agreement is the result of a collaborative effort and several months of negotiations between attorneys from Public Counsel, the ACLU and Morrison & Foerster and counsel for LAUSD, UTLA, the Association of Administrators of Los Angeles representing the Principals and other administrators of LAUSD, and PLAS. The settlement also is subject to the approval of the Court.